Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” at its core is a visceral detective story, a hard-hitting noir, and it feels like you’re watching David Finchers’ “Se7en.” It fully embraces the tragedy Bruce Wayne has been facing as an adult, the death of his parents as a child, while also showcasing the clever detective side of his Batman. The film creates characters we care about by giving us emotional performances due to the direction of the writing. Additionally, the technical quality of the entire production is top-notch. “This Batman” is a grounded, emotional take on the caped crusader.
The story follows Bruce Wayne’s (Robert Pattinson) early crime-fighting days as Batman. As we venture into Gotham City’s criminal world, a zodiac-style killer, The Riddler (Paul Dano), has murdered Gotham City’s mayor on Halloween night. At the crime scene, the Riddler left behind a cryptic message to Batman, fixated with the idea of lying and corruption that’s plagued Gotham City for years. The Riddler’s master plan is to expose how corrupt Gotham’s politicians and police have been by any means necessary. Batman must establish new relationships, unmask the Riddler, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has plagued Gotham City.
Robert Pattinson plays a soft-spoken, emotionally scarred Bruce Wayne, not the playboy billionaire we’re accustomed to seeing. When we first meet his character, he is miserable and utterly isolated from the world. Bruce has no desire to be Bruce Wayne. When he suits up as Batman, his character comes entirely to life—using the idea of Batman to spread fear into the criminal world. Bruce goes by the motto, “Fear is a tool. When that light hits the sky, it’s not just a call. It’s a warning. For them.” Pattinson portrays immense emotions through his eyes. You feel his character’s pain and anger through his piercing eyes in each frame. Since we’re in his early days, his Batman is clumsy and far from perfect. He’s still learning the ropes of being the crime-fighting vigilante. All his tech and gadgets are the most grounded and realistic we’ve seen.
The ensemble cast serves the story as each character is well developed. Paul Dano plays a realistic version of the Riddler—his character is haunting and compelling as the main villain. Some of his traps reminded me of a PG-13 version of the villain Jigsaw from the “Saw” franchise. Zoë Kravitz gives a powerful performance as Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. This version of the character feels more like a human being with emotions rather than a monster that kills for fun. Selina is given some of the best action scenes in the film, considering her character goes toe-to-toe with Batman. Jeffrey Wright is perfectly cast as Jim Gordon, and this might be the best on-screen chemistry we’ve seen between Batman and Gordon. The biggest surprise is how much I enjoyed Colin Farrell as the Penguin. The makeup and acting transform him into the role, making him unrecognizable.
The sound design in this film is top-notch and used creatively. Before Batman appears from the shadows, the sound focuses on his heavy footsteps slowly approaching the criminals. The camera then pans to their faces as we see them shaking with fear. Of course, the film gives us a heart-racing chase with the Batmobile, a modified late 60s Dodge Charger. The first time the engine roars, you’ll feel a rush of adrenalin of pure excitement.
While the film is three hours long, you don’t feel the runtime. Each plot point is perfectly crafted and well-executed by director Matt Reeves. The themes in this film are heavy as it deals with corruption and other social issues. For example, it shows how social media can spread misinformation exceptionally quickly. At the beginning of the movie, the bat symbol spreads fear; however, in the end, it’s used as a symbol of hope. The film is more of a detective story than an action spectacle, while Batman is more human and vulnerable. “The Batman” is arguably the most grounded and realistic take on the character and might go down as the most beautiful-looking comic book movie you’ve ever seen.